A door has been opened by a federal judge for the family of a Florida teenager who went missing to sue his friend’s mother. The tragic story of two teenage boys that went missing off Florida’s Atlantic went viral and ended with many unanswered questions.
On July 24, 2015, two 14-year-old Florida boys, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen left out on a fishing trip from Jupiter Inlet on a 19-foot boat owned by Austin’s mother, Carly Black. During a storm, the boys disappeared never to be found. The boat was initially found approximately 60 miles off Daytona Beach but wasn’t secured by officials. A Norwegian cargo ship later recovered the boat in the Bahamas.
IT was reported in The Palm Beach Post that the two families have fought in federal court over a maritime law that limits the amount anyone can sue for to the value of a damaged boat which comes to $500. On July 10th, 2017, U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas lifted an injunction that kept Pamela and Philip Cohen from suing Carly Black in state court. Guy Rudin, The Cohens’ attorney, told the newspaper previously that under the law the petitioners have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit which is approaching quickly.
In June, a report was released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement stating there was enough probable cause to charge Black with child neglect but have failed to file any charges. According to the report, Black did not immediately notify authorities or the Cohens when the boy initially went missing. It was reported that Black did not notify these parties until several hours after she last had contact with them. Black told investigators that it is common for the boys to go fishing together and believed they were “the victims of a tragic mishap.” Black attempted to reach her son, Austin after the storm started and received no response. Other family members and friends were contacted before Perry’s parents, who called 911. The report also stated that “the egregious lapse in judgment and failure to exercise due care had the effect of culminating in the disappearance of both boys who are now believed to have perished,”.
When a family has experienced a tragic loss of a loved one due to the fault of another person or entity, that family may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit compensates for the survivors’ loss such as lost wages from the deceased, funeral expenses and lost companionship. If or someone you know has recently lost a loved one due to the neglect of another party, call the Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys to discuss your possible case.